Word Count: 770
Someday it’s all gonna be mine, Hoss Cartwright — also known as Eric Cartwright when he was in trouble – thought, staring at the map of the Ponderosa that hung on the wall behind his father’s desk. He put his hands on his hips and in the process accidentally bumped his father’s head for the second time in two minutes.
“Eric!” Ben growled, clearly irritated that one of the numbers he was writing in the otherwise neat column was slightly out of line with the others.
Hoss gulped. Was he in trouble? “Sorry, Pa,” he grinned sheepishly and tried to reposition himself away from Ben’s head while at the same time continuing to look at the artist’s not necessarily to-scale rendition of the ranch’s 1000 square miles.
“That’s okay, son.” Ben, who obviously felt guilty about his previous tone, smiled up at him and patted him on his arm. “Is there something on your mind?”
“Pa, do you think that someday I could own this?” Hoss pointed to the title, “MAP TO ILLUSTRATE THE PONDEROSA IN NEVADA,” in the upper right corner of the drawing.
“Do you really mean that, Hoss?” Ben looked up at him in surprise.
“Why not?” Hoss traced the road from the stagecoach to Carson City and on up to Virginia City with his finger. “Who wouldn’t want to own this?’
“Well, it’s just that I never thought you would be the first one to ask about it, that’s all,” Ben shrugged and put down his pen.
Hoss stepped back so he could look his father in the eye. “You mean Adam and Joe haven’t…?”
Ben shook his head from side to side indicating a negative response. “I was beginning to think no one would…”
“Oh, Pa, I would love to own this,” Hoss waved toward the map on the wall.
“Well, that’s simple enough to arrange…” Ben reached into the cabinet behind his desk and pulled out a large rolled up sepia colored paper.
“It is?” Hoss was stunned.
“Sure it is,” Ben laughed at the expression on his middle son’s face as he turned back and handed the rolled up paper to him.
“Gee, thanks, Pa,” Hoss beamed unrolling a copy of the “MAP TO ILLUSTRATE THE PONDEROSA IN NEVADA” that was hanging on the wall. “I’m gonna hang it up in my room beside my Lotta Crabtree picture…” he started to leave but Ben clearing his throat stopped him.
“Now hold on a minute, Hoss. I’ve got something here for you to sign first,” Ben shoved a smaller piece of paper at Hoss.
“A receipt and release of liability, Pa?” Hoss looked at him quizzically.
“It’s just a formality, Hoss, that’s all,” Ben explained chuckling and handed him his pen.
“Well, okay. If you say so,” Hoss said uneasily looking at his father like he was selling him a $50 horse for $25 but it was worth only $10. He sighed. If you can’t trust your Pa, who could you trust? He then affixed his John Hancock to his father’s receipt and slid it back to him.
“Thank you but there is one more thing,” Ben smiled, reached under the desk and pulled out a huge bucket of water that he immediately handed over to Hoss. “For some reason, it spontaneously catches on fire every once in a while.”
Hoss looked down at the bucket and then back at Ben, wondering if he could even trust his father, given this information. “Thanks, Pa, I think,” he mumbled as he turned and trudged up the stairs, the map under his arm while he used both hands to carry the bucket of water.
“Hmmm, maybe I should have told him about the music, too?” Ben said to himself as he watched Hoss go. “On second thought, maybe that could be a little surprise for him. What do you say, Inger?” He winked at his middle boy’s mother’s picture in the silver frame that set on his desk between Adam’s mother and Joe’s. “…Hair of brown… Hair of gold…. I’ll take what I see…” he sang as he scribbled a figure in the debit column for the cost of the map and the bucket and whatever the furnishings in Hoss’ room were worth. “We’re not a one to saddle up and run….Bonanza! Anyone of us who starts a little fuss …knows he can count on me…All for four…”